Monday, 30 September 2013

Is it Monday already?

Goodness, I'm out of practice.
It wasn't a busy weekend
but I don't have a post ready.

Let's see if I can think of an excuse...

I planted my window boxes
pale blue violas, very subtle...
I think you would be impressed.

I cast on a hot water bottle cover,
also pale blue, must be my subconscious...
many thanks to Tracy and Nancy
for measuring their hotties for me.

I thought about making some chutney.

So you see it's been hectic.

Oh, alright, don't look at me like that...
I've been shockingly idle.
I shall have to up my game.

WAIT ...I've just remembered...
you can have a fruit tart from Sketch
but you have to be suitably groovy.
Purple lipstick would work.
I went with my sister Demelza
who was wearing gold plaforms
and MissM and my fab niece.
We drank cocktails and ate pastries.
Yup. Sometimes my life is like that.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Living with Geographers

Five years ago I walked into this building for the first time.

I opened the door of my new office,
heard laughter down the corridor
and knew that I would be happy.

Now is the right time for me to move on
but it is very hard to leave my friends:

the lovely ladies in the front office;
Jenny the cool cartographer;
two Heads of Department;
two Exams Officers and Deputy Don;
Dr Harriet next-door and busy, busy Dr B;
the Young Academic and the Scottish Academic;
the Lady Professor and the Enthusiastic Professor;
the Professor who observed the Falklands referendum;
the Cultural Professor and my Favourite Professor;
the Academic who knows about kites in Tibet;
the Academic who was 39 when I joined;
the Academic who flies gliders
and the Admissions Tutor.

So many inspirational colleagues
that I have been privileged to work with
and so many students filling my office
with their energy and enthusiasm.

I have an exciting new job to go to
but right now I just want to remember
what an amazing five years it has been:

Living with Geographers

I have been so very, very fortunate.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Before I Forget...

There are five things you need to know:

The following photos are not fake.
The Young Academic was there
with his lovely family
and they will vouch for me.

The judges commented that my Swiss Roll
had the right amount of cracks
to demonstrate it was homemade.

The cheese scones did not win
because they had "no flavour".

The Dundee cake did not win
because it had been "overcooked".

The Victoria Sandwich
had a "nice amount of jam".
Can't say fairer than that.

I beat Mavis Waghorn,
local baking Goddess.
I am ashamed to admit
how gratifiying that was.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

a play of shine

My garden blazes shades of amber
in this autumn of light

west sun diamond bright
on the spider net

leaves pricked half-way
between sky and earth glow gold

a ruby red apple
burning russet flames.

These are my heart-stones,
held safe for winter,

a curation of light,
a play of shine.

Alice Christie
24 ix 13

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Il Santino, via Santo Spirito

We eat out a lot on holiday:
places that we have researched in advance,
recommendations from locals,
menus that catch our eye.

My best meal during our week in Florence
was a spur of the moment choice:
Il Santino on Via Santo Spirito.

Il Santino is a tiny wine bar
attached to a well known restaurant,
Osteria del Santo Bevitore.

We stopped for a light Sunday lunch:
a tomato salad, glass of wine, good bread.

The food is freshly prepared in front of you
and the wine is chosen according to what you eat.

There was a curiously zen atmosphere,
very peaceful and relaxing.
We read 'Il Messagero'
and planned our week in Florence.

I finally permitted myself to breathe out
during that hour perched on cafe chairs.

I can't promise Il Santino will transform your life too
but I can definitely recommend
the tomato and mozzarella salad.

Monday, 23 September 2013

In the Renaissance Workshop

I approached the first day with trepidation.
Painting is not my recreation of choice.

Did the sight of goose feathers and oak gall ink
increase or decrease my confidence?

"Decrease" is the correct answer.

But all was not lost!
I have not forgotten how to use tracing paper
and so could fearlessly copy masterpieces
and reinterpret them in the Basic style.

This is Ellie, History of Art graduate,
demonstrating crazy quill and ink skills.

The Renaissance Workshop used a variety of ingredients:
silverpoint drawing on a surface of crushed bird bone,
oak gall ink, lamp black ink,
rabbit skin glue, ox glue.
sienna, ochre, umber, vermillion,
lapis lazuli, azurite, orcein,
lime white, lead white, gold leaf.

And egg yolk.

Here is a master class
by Professor Alan Pascuzzi,
academic, artist and teacher,
on how to crack an egg.

The egg yolk is used as emulsion
for pigment in tempera paintings.

First apply gold leaf to your icon
and then paint.

With egg yolk.

Simple. No?

This is the lovely Marianne
carefully re-creating an icon.

I should explain that egg tempera dries quickly
so you have to know what you are doing.
Which I did not.
(Imagine a learner driver on the M25)

Wet fresco plaster dries even quicker.
You need to finish painting within an hour.
Which I did not.
(Imagine a learner driver in the fast lane of M25)

Here is MrM concentrating hard.
I think he looks quite adorable.

I must regretfully admit
that MrM's icon was better than mine.
Mine looked like Wendy the Witch.


We both had a most enjoyable week
and the informative lectures,
site visits and practical sessions
have completely changed
our appreciation of Renaissance art.

Many thanks to the British Institute
and to Professor Alan Pascuzzi
who was incredibly patient
with his Renaissance 'apprentices'.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Florence en plein air

We have just returned from a week in Florence.

I don't want you think this was
a week of hedonistic sight seeing, shopping
and sampling the various gelateria.

Oh no.

MrM decided that we needed to do an art course,
looking at masterpieces in the morning
and learning the techniques in the afternoon.

What could possibly go wrong?

Renaissance Art for Beginners
is not for the faint-hearted reader.

I thought it was only fair
to give you a day's warning.

Get a good nights sleep.
Have some rescue remedy at hand.
You have been warned.

In the meantime
here are some photos of Florence.

You're welcome.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

This poem is tired...

I am sorry that I have been away.

I was so tired.

Not depressed, stressed or ill...

 just plain, old fashioned tired.

Not the sort of tired that needs a good nights sleep.

Not the sort of tired that needs a holiday in the sunshine.

This was run-out-of-steam, hit-the-buffers tired.

I knew what the problem was,

I knew what needed to be done,

and I have done those things

although it has taken a while.

Now I will pick up where I left off.

There are things to tell you

so let's get busy.


Thank you, my friends,
for your gentle and concerned emails.
Every one of them meant
a great deal to me.

Credit to Murray Lachlan Young
for the title of this post
from his brilliant performance poem
on Radio 6 this morning (9.06)